FAW, Hino and Nissan were among South Africa’s vehicle manufacturers who went big at the recent NAMPO agricultural show in Bothaville
FAW trucks are popular choices for members of the agricultural community – and the number of FAW owners in the sector is growing exponentially.
That’s the claim made by Jianyu Hao, CEO of FAW Vehicle Manufacturers South Africa, following the brand’s participation last month in the NAMPO Harvest Day Festival at Bothaville in the Free State.
Hao said in terms of size, vehicle representation and ability to engage with the public, FAW’s display at the event had been perceived as a frontrunner. He said farmers had indicated that they liked the vehicles because of their strong chassis, good grip and traction afforded by manual transmission, and a cab design that promoted driving comfort.
“At NAMPO we recognised the patronage and loyal support of a multitude of agricultural customers who have, over the past 22 years that FAW has been present in South Africa, remained committed to our brand,” he said.
Hao added that the number of FAWs sold in the sub-Saharan region had increased since the opening of the company’s Coega-based plant in 2014. “Many Southern African customers are buying locally produced vehicles because of the obvious cost benefits and the opportunity to purchase well-engineered trucks, some modified to meet specific regional conditions,” he said.
According to Hao, advantages of buying local included shorter lead-times for delivery; the internationally recognised, high quality levels maintained at the South African plant; and the reduced cost of sourcing FAW vehicles locally, rather than importing.
Another truck manufacturer which had a high profile at NAMPO was Hino South Africa, the brand afterwards agreeing to distribute to distressed farmers across Southern Africa a load of livestock feed which had been donated for delivery by the local agricultural community.
“There is a strong camaraderie among farmers,” said Leslie Long, Hino SA’s senior manager for marketing and product planning. “For instance, last year we provided a truck and inter-link trailer to deliver feed to drought stricken farmers in the Free State.
“This year, famers who had enjoyed rain and good crops came to our stand and said they had feed they were prepared to donate to needy farmers in other areas if we could take care of delivery, which we agreed to,” said Long.
He said Hino’s credentials in the agricultural sector had been established in 1972, when Toyota decided to introduce trucks to South Africa. “The brand already had a strong presence among farmers with its range of bakkies. Now we sell about a quarter of our Hino vehicles to the agricultural and related sectors. Our success in this market segment is long-running.”
Long said NAMPO – originally organised in 1974 by the National Maize Producers’ Organisation, but now marketed by Grain SA – provided an excellent opportunity for interaction with current and potential customers. He said this year, as usual, several Hino trucks which had been on display had been sold off the stand.
According to Long, a new derivative in the 500-Series range – the Hino 1322 with four-wheel drive and the option of single or dual rear wheels – drew much interest, while a selection of 1,5-ton Dynas, which were recently re-rated as a light commercial vehicles, proved popular among potential buyers, a drop-side tipper version being snapped up.
Also sold off the stand was a Hino 1626 fitted with cattle rails, while other vehicles on display included a Hino 700-Series 6×4 truck-tractor and the range-topping 3541 8×4 tipper.
Nissan South Africa, too, reaffirmed its long-term commitment to the agricultural sector by exhibiting its extensive range of pick-ups and accessories at the show.
Main attraction was the all-new Navara, including a number of highly accessorised derivatives and a unique exposed model showing the vehicle’s ladder frame and independent rear suspension.
“There was widespread interest in the vehicle and especially in its rear suspension,” said product manager Isa Giunta. “Using the exposed model, we were able to demonstrate how the Navara could carry more than a ton in the load bay, while offering significantly better road holding and ride comfort than traditional leaf sprung pick-ups.”
While visitors to the Nissan display could interact with technical specialists, they were also invited to experience the Navara’s off-road prowess at the NAMPO 4×4 track, where two models were available for test drives.
Also on display were examples of the NP300 Hardbody – still one of the best-selling pick-ups in South Africa, with a large number sold to farmers and suppliers to the agricultural sector – NP300 and NP200 derivatives, and an extensive range of agricultural-specific accessories such as cattle rails, raised, heavy-duty suspension systems and replacement bumpers with additional underbody protection.
“We’re confident that as the Navara range expands, it will also become a top selling model in this market, both as a workhorse and a leisure vehicle,” said Xavier Gobille, managing director for sales, marketing and aftersales at the Nissan Group.
About 70 000 people were said to have attended this year’s show, which is widely regarded as the largest agricultural expo of its kind in the southern hemisphere.